Spinach is native to Asia and was introduced into England in the middle of the 16th century. It is the queen of all dark green leafy vegetables. It is the least bitter and also the most tender.
Health Benefits of Spinach
Spinach contains high amounts of pro-vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as B vitamins, including high quantities of folates, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, betaine, iron, potassium, copper, phosphorus, and zinc. Spinach is an alkaline food, which is very good to balance our highly acidic Western diet.
Spinach is among the best sources of folates, which are important for cardiovascular and brain health. Half a cup of spinach contains about 50% of your daily needs in folates. And spinach also contains nearly twice as much iron as most other vegetable greens. Iron has an important role in strenghtening the brain and the respiratory system, and in fighting anemia, hypertension and circulatory issues. Half a cup of spinach contains about 20% of your daily needs in iron.
Spinach also contains a significant amount of coenzyme Q10. The other vegetable that contains this coenzyme is broccoli. Coenzyme Q10 works in synergy with vitamins C, E, and glutathione, which is the main antioxidant in cells, where it protects DNA from oxidation.
However, due to the high oxalate content in spinach, which binds with calcium, only 5% of calcium in spinach is absorbed by the body when spinach is not cooked.
Buying and Storing Spinach
Spinach is on the list of foods with highest content in pesticides when grown conventionally, so you’ll want to buy organic spinach whenever possible.
Spinach should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within a few days. It can also be frozen.
Spinach contains substances that inhibit calcium and iron absorption, including high levels of oxalate. Oxalic acid is neutralized in cooking. However, vitamin C gets lost in cooking.
Your best bet is to eat both raw and cooked spinach, alternatively, to make the most of the nutrients. Spinach can be blanched for a few seconds or steamed for a couple of minutes.
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